June 30, 1895|
February 11, 1976 (aged 80)|
Fort Harrison, Montana
John Kenneth (Johnny) Miljus (Serbian Cyrillic Џон Кенет Миљуш or Serbian Latin Džon Kenet Miljuš) (June 30, 1895 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – February 11, 1976 in Fort Harrison, Montana) nicknamed Big Serb and Jovo, was a Serbian-American baseball player who pitched in Major League Baseball between 1915 and 1929. Miljus was most likely the first American Serb to play in professional baseball. 
Early life[edit | edit source]
Miljus was born in the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh. He attended Duquesne University and the University of Pittsburgh. While in school, he worked in the steel mills and played college football and baseball. He also played on local semi-pro teams, which occasionally faced Negro league teams like the Homestead Grays. He graduated as a doctor of dentistry but never practiced.
Miljus served in the United States Army during World War I, in France, as part of the 320th Infantry. His wartime bunkmate was Joe Harris. The two of them would later be reunited as members of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Miljus was wounded in action at the Battle of the Argonne and was to be sent home. Instead he chose to rejoin his unit and return to action after leaving the hospital.
Career[edit | edit source]
After toiling in the minors, this lanky 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) 178 pounder spent six seasons in the major leagues as a pitcher. Miljus reached the majors in 1915 with the Pittsburgh Rebels of the outlaw Federal League, spending one year with them before moving to the Brooklyn Robins (NL, 1920–21), Pittsburgh Pirates (NL, 1927–28) and Cleveland Indians (AL, 1929).  More than a dependable pitcher, he filled several roles coming out from the bullpen as a closer or a middle reliever, and as an occasional starter as well.
Miljus is probably best remembered as the pitcher who served up a ninth-inning wild pitch that escaped Pirates' catcher Johnny Gooch and allowed the New York Yankees to sweep the 1927 World Series. In Game Four, after striking out Lou Gehrig and Bob Meusel, and with two strikes on Tony Lazzeri, the next Miljus pitch rolled far enough away for Earle Combs to score the winning run.
In a seven-season career, Miljus posted a 29–26 record with 166 strikeouts and a 3.92 ERA in 457⅓ innings pitched, including 45 starts, 15 complete games, two shutouts, and five saves.
As of 2006, Miljus has one of the lowest ERA (3.92) of any major league pitcher coming out of University of Pittsburgh with more than 100 innings, behind Bob Malloy (3.26), Doc Medich (3.77) and Steve Swetonic (3.81).
References[edit | edit source]
- Nicklanovich, Michael D. (September–October 1997). "John Miljus "Big Serb" Early Hurler in the World Series". http://www.serbworldusa.com/MILJUS.html. Retrieved 2014-08-03.
- "Johnny Miljus Stats". Baseball-Almanac. 2014. http://www.baseball-almanac.com/players/player.php?p=miljujo01. Retrieved 2014-08-03.
- "Johnny Miljus". Baseballlibrary.com. 2006. http://www.baseballlibrary.com/ballplayers/player.php?name=Johnny_Miljus_1895. Retrieved 2014-08-03.
- "Johnny Miljus". Retrosheet.org. 2014. http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/M/Pmiljj101.htm. Retrieved 2014-08-03.
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